Avoiding the Storm
A few days ago we read that there was a storm coming. We like to fit in a few rest days when we’re travelling; we’re not as young as we were and a storm day seemed a good day to stay at home. We wanted to get some groceries and we thought we could maybe spend the afternoon having a little drive around; the storm was due in the morning. Gerry told me that he had some plans for me after lunch. He told me that he’d arranged a treat for me… a day at the Spa and then a coffee break at the harbour. It sounded like fun!
Some of you will already know that Gerry is a bit of a joker but my spa day turned our to be a Spar Supermarket; we were going shopping! My afternoon coffee beside the harbour was actually a container port and the coffee was in a flask. It’s a good job I love this man!
Nonetheless… we had an enjoyable drive and spotted a few places that we’d like to go back and visit and we made use of the day, even with the rain and the storm!
Time for Lunch
When we took our walking tour of Valletta the guide suggested that if we wanted to try the real taste of Malta we should visit a small town called Mgarr for Sunday Lunch. She explained that there are few large mammals on the island and the local dish was rabbit as a result. She talked about the kind of meal that we could expect, she said that Maltese folk love a good Sunday lunch and Gerry was sold. We knew that the weather was still going to be changeable so he booked a table for two at United Restaurant. (there are two in this little town called United… choose the one with a blue website and the note ‘behind the church’).
Around the coast and in Valletta there are a good choice of restaurants if you search them out but many of them cater for tourists. Being told to go inland and off the beaten track for more traditional fare is just what I love. As a small island with few cattle it’s not surprising that rabbit is the national dish, typically fried or stewed. We were told that the small town of Mgarr was a famous centre for the dish and Sunday lunch was a must. So we headed to United Restaurant as recommended on TripAdvisor.
I pre-warned them that Colleen was gluten and dairy free and received a prompt confirmation. We parked near the church and made our way into a very Maltese style restaurant full of local clientele. I suspect we were the only tourists as a lot of Maltese was being spoken. It had a good atmosphere!
Romano greeted us very cheerfully, he discussed Colleen’s choices in detail and helped her choose a meal. It felt very professional and he even chose a local wine for us, which was perfect with the meal. For starters we chose a shared Maltese Platter, with olives and capers and cold cuts and pates and tomatoes and artichokes and bread and crackers; we were full before the main even arrived! I chose the rabbit stew from the menu and I wasn’t disappointed. It was rich and earthy with a hint of cinnamon; it reminded me a lot of North African cuisine. We were both too full for deserts but they looked as appetising as the other courses, we opted for coffee instead.
A couple of hours after we arrived, we left happy and very full and service still in full flow in this very busy restaurant. I would thoroughly recommend United in Mgarr!
Mini Malta Road Trip
Yesterday’s storm was still with us, if anything the weather is much worse today than yesterday but we hoped that it would clear in the afternoon. We we so decided to visit some of the beaches on this side of the island and meander our way back to Marsaskala. First we drove down to Mgarr’s local beach at Gnejna. A few hardy folks were gathered outside a local beach bar but we sat in the car and had a cuppa from our flask! I ventured out to take a few photos, which amused Gerry no end! But I’m pleased with the result. It started raining on my way back and I ran back to the car but the hardy folks at the bar headed off for a hike over the cliffs!
Our Lady of Carmel
We picked a spot on the map for our next stop. A Church called Our Lady of Carmel and Dingli Cliffs; we’ve just come back from Carmel in the USA and we were in Ireland earlier this year so it seemed like a good choice. As we drove the heavens opened and the further along the road we drove the narrower and more rustic the road became. Malta doesn’t have many high points but we seemed to be driving over one of them!
The wind was ferocious and we began to question our idea of walking along cliffs but our road in places was single track and either side we had high walls, so there was only one way we were going. Partway along we encountered a bit of an obstacle. A wall had collapsed across the road. We jumped out and started heaving these huge stones, working as quickly as we could as the wind howled and the rain fell. We made enough room for our little car to get through and headed on to Carmel.
Sadly the church was closed, derelict almost. But the views were magnificent and the rain stopped! We walked up a trail and took in the views but it started to rain again so we ran back to the car and had another cuppa from the flask before driving onwards to our next stop. We carried on to the Blue Grotto but the rain was terrible, indeed we ended up taking shelter under the tiny door frame on an ancient watch tower. As soon as it eased we ran back to the car; there was going to be no walking today! Instead we decided to head back to Marsaskala and our little apartment.
En Route we drove by Pretty Bay, where the boats bobbed in a remarkably calml fashion but passing St Thomas Bay we spotted huge waves and I stopped for a few more photos before finally heading home.
The weather might have been pretty awful today but we go to see a side of Malta that we’d not yet seen. We’ve decided that the island is a mix of cultures, one minute we feel we’re in Spain and the next we feel it’s more like Jordan. But regardless of the weather (and the wind is currently blowing at 66kms an hour outside with even stronger gusts) we had a great day but we’re hoping for a little less wind and rain tomorrow!